Life Unwound: New insights can lead us in new directions

Have you heard the story of the man who looked at a coiled rope, assumed it was a snake, and jumped back in a panic?

Susan Young, MSEd, MSC, is living happily in retirement and hopes to see more of her grandchildren in 2022.

Or the story of a monk who lived for decades in a cave and for years created a floor-to-ceiling image of a tiger with bold stripes and edgy whiskers on the walls? After the monk put the finishing touches on the wildcat’s intense eye, he stepped back to admire his fine art. Then, fearing that the bloodthirsty carnivore would eat him, the man screamed and fled from the cave.

We humans tend to glimpse things a certain way and react as if our thoughts are true with what Einstein called “a kind of optical illusion of consciousness.” Thus, Marcel Proust was probably right when he said: “The voyage of discovery does not consist in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes.

My journey with new eyes started with my first pair of glasses in third grade. My eye doctor told me that I should also wear a patch on my right eye until my left eye gets stronger. He said my left eye was “lazy” because it was rolling inward. The right eye had to be covered to force the muscular effort of the left.

With a lazy eye, with a sleepy left eye, and before glasses, when I looked the other kids straight in the eye, they were like, “Hey, sleazy, are you looking at me? They zigzagged their eyeballs and chanted, “Cross-eyed, cross-eyed.”

I would look at the ground. My stomach tightened. I would choke and curl up small. They teased me and I saw a terrifying tiger. They laughed at me and I thought I wasn’t worthy to play with them. It’s hard to make friends if we perceive people as creepy snakes.

So I wore my new glasses and my patch with hope. Now things would change on the playing field. Again they laughed at me: “four eyes” and with the patch, “three eyes”. Yet I had somehow grown to imagine four eyes as a chance to see well, to uncross my eyes. I liked my chic blue and silver frames. And because I had also adopted a new glasses/patch/vision correction mental frame, their taunts didn’t bother me. It’s funny how perception works, how beliefs shape our reality.

For more than 60 years, my glasses have symbolized a metaphor and have taught me to ask: “What are my delusions of conscience?” How can I refine my view of the world? Can I concentrate more skillfully? »

How do we look at our lives? Do we view pain, setbacks, defeats, illnesses and new diagnoses as snakes and tigers? Or can we transform our optical illusions and patch up our perceptions? Could they offer us new ways to look at the struggles of life, to see the opportunities for growth?

Recently someone stole my bifocal sunglasses. Maybe they liked the shiny case. They won’t like what they can’t see through my prescription. Thieves will suffer from blurring. Will they see their madness? To feel guilty? Do you feel sad about their lack of clear vision? And for us, when we are in emotional pain, when we are wasting away in misfortune, when we feel stuck, can we ask, “What am I not seeing? (perhaps sunlight, spring buds, children’s smiles, someone else’s perspective, support from loved ones, or needed behavior change).

Today, when I feel blind, blinded or blinded, I try to remind myself to consider a new perspective, to change my point of view, because the lens through which we assess the world clarifies if we see the crisis myopically as a danger or also as an opportunity.

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